Mewhort Has Turned Negative Into Positive

Ohio State fifth-year senior Jack Mewhort had a difficult summer last year, but this year he has come through that difficulty and emerged as a team leader and likely captain.

During a week that has seen off-the-field problems dominate the headlines for the Ohio State football team, the yearlong journey of Jack Mewhort from being in hot water with Urban Meyer to likely being a 2013 captain is worth remembering.

Mewhort, then a fourth-year junior and going into his second year as a starter on the offensive line for the Buckeyes, spent much of last summer in Meyer's doghouse after his arrest and subsequent guilty plea to disorderly conduct stemming from a June incident that also included teammate Jake Stoneburner. The pair lost their scholarships during that summer and had to work to earn them back.

A year later, Mewhort was in Chicago representing Meyer and Ohio State at the annual Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. It was a long, rewarding road for the 6-7, 308-pound lineman.

"I made a mistake. I was held accountable for it, and I grew and learned from it," Mewhort said. "I had to earn back a lot of trust from my peers and my coaches, but I think I've become stronger for it. I learned a lot from Coach Meyer and (strength coach Mickey Marotti) and (offensive line coach Ed) Warinner.

"I think I've become stronger as a leader and I really appreciate (Meyer) bringing me here. It's a great honor."

The adversity Mewhort went through after the mistake – one that not only prevented him from working out with his teammates at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center but also put his name in the news for the wrong reasons – helped improve the Toledo native in several ways.

"It just made me check myself a little more, as far as decision-making," Mewhort said. "I realized that I have to be more mature."

Not only did the maturity come in time, but also added leadership. Mewhort anchored an offensive line with fellow tackle Reid Fragel, guards Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell and center Corey Linsley that went from a preseason question mark last fall to arguably the Buckeyes' best unit. The line helped Ohio State average 242.2 yards rushing per game, good for No. 10 in the nation.

The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in scoring with 37.1 points per game and scored 37 rushing touchdowns, a 34-year high mark. Mewhort was named second-team All-Big Ten following the season and shared the team's offensive lineman of the year honor with Norwell.

While Mewhort had a good season on the field, he was also paying attention to things that were happening away from the Xs and Os as well. Specifically, Mewhort was watching fellow class of 2009 recruits John Simon and Zach Boren, the two biggest leaders on the unbeaten 2012 squad.

"They were just two very unselfish guys," Mewhort said. "I came in with those guys, and I watched them grow into the leaders that they were. I got to have my redshirt year, so luckily I'm still here and I can apply things that I learned from them to my leadership style.

"Not only them, but guys like Cam Heyward and Austin Spitler and Jake Ballard – guys that have come before me. I've had the benefit of seeing them be awesome leaders on great football teams. I can apply all those things to how I lead the team now."

Mewhort enters his final collegiate season as a player coaches and teammates rely on. During the spring, Meyer strongly insinuated that Mewhort would be a captain this fall, and the two teammates that joined Mewhort in Chicago – junior quarterback Braxton Miller and senior safety Christian Bryant – had nothing but praise for the big lineman.

"I think he sees the position that he's in and that he has to contribute to the team as a leader because he saw what happened last year with Johnny, Zach Boren and all those guys," Bryant said. "They contributed as leaders. He saw that and ran with it. He's talking a lot more and showing leadership."

Added Miller: "He's just got so much passion for the game, and he's got so much passion for each and every one of us. He cares. He shows it all the time. He might say something to somebody, and nobody is going to say something back to him because he's got that respect. He's got that mentality, that leadership."

"And look how big he is, nobody is going to say anything back to him."

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